NetSuite’s time has come in Australia

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As an informed Business Executive or IT professional there comes a time in every technology vendor’s life where  you should endeavour to find out all you can about that company and their technologies. For cloud ERP vendor NetSuite, that time is now.

NetSuite is a company I have followed for many years as an analyst. I have been the beneficiary of many briefings and fine dining lunches. I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with their CEO Zach Nelson and a range of other strategy focused executives over the years. Their credentials have always been first class.

But I have always felt they were too far ahead of the curve to warrant serious contention in the end-user markets that I have advised. Cloud was ready for Australia but Australia was not ready in any meaningful way for cloud.

You can be #1 in anything from a technology perspective and still struggle with customer traction or relevance in many markets – Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific among them.

But this year feels different. This year I intend to go all-in with NetSuite and many of you should consider what that means for your own strategies, transformation programs and business cases that will underpin decisions for the core systems that run your organisations.

Many companies are putting together their 2020 Visions in an attempt to stay relevant to their customer or stakeholder base. Whether you are a public sector institution (government, GOC, or NFP) or a pure commercial juggernaut, there are transformative and disruptive elements at play in every industry today.

The frequency, speed and scale of those disruptions is what will impede many organisations from realising their visions. Under-pinning that will be the inflexibility, disconnectedness, and narrow focus of the technology platforms that exist to deliver service delivery outcomes – no matter how great your strategy or how savvy your board of directors.

Another key turning point for me this year has been the enthusiasm, breadth and quality of the NetSuite partner ecosystem. Companies like Boomi (integration), Fronde (platform), eWay (processor), JCurve (small business ERP and intelligence) and even Fusion 5 (a legacy ERP SI) are testament to the rising fortunes of NetSuite in this part of the world.

Ecosystems are important because ICT is not a 1:1 value proposition. No single vendor owns a customer and those that continue to believe they can do everything have failed to realise that cloud is simply the transitional channel to micro-transactional utility computing.

Partner ecosystems underpin the reality of this hybrid-cloud future-state. Every organisation will find themselves operating a hybrid model in the coming years; either by architected design or simply by good [or bad] fortune.

It is also important that these partner ecosystems are of a high quality. Why? Because the alternative scenario is reminiscent of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where undesirable cousins can be hard to dislodge from the festivities.

The other intriguing element of the NetSuite proposition that can no longer be ignored is its potential as an industry- or sector- agnostic single ERP engine. The opportunity for this outcome remains as important today as it ever has in the field of business process automation. Impossible right?

Well actually, it is in this area that NetSuite’s rate-of-growth and ground-up cloud architecture are setting the new benchmark in just about every geography. SAP, Microsoft, Oracle, Epicor, Sage, and even TechnologyOne (though less so in the local government market) are on notice.

The fact that ERP platforms need to run whole companies and not just divisions has been one of the biggest roadblocks to the success of the ERP vendor market. And by success I don’t mean the ERP solution market is not lucrative.

I mean from the customer’s perspective where lean-process, service-delivery excellence, growth and profitability factors are the ultimate litmus for success – not license growth or renewal, or number of the same versions of a single ERP solution deployed across the organisation.

Most ERP vendors and their SI channel partners have been driven to specialise in sector or industry solutions. At that stage they are pretty much all in and are either good or great. Those that don’t specialise in industries are pilloried just the same for being too big, too irrelevant, too vanilla, too expensive, too many superfluous functions…

Rather than shying away from these classic challenges, NetSuite’s technical platform and business approach is to embrace customisation in every customer while at the same time still providing unilateral multi-year releases across the entire customer base. And they are proving this model in both product and service oriented companies with fast deployment times in complex businesses. The blurring distinction between the classic product vs service orientation in today’s omni-channel, digital world makes this a killer differentiator.

That is true cloud, and that is the reason that you should put them on your short-list.